As I watch the City's game, I see both Pattern and variability simultaneously. Much of what happens is, on the one hand, part of a pre-existing idea and group strategy, but, on the other hand, also very spontaneous.
The art of marrying redundancy and variability and still make them evolve together, is one of the most difficult but necessary things for the football of the future, I believe.
City, besides having some of the best players in the world, is a good example of this dichotomy – pattern and variability, idea-spontaneity, group-Individual - much influenced by the COACH, including as a facilitator and promoter of spontaneity, albeit indirectly.
Quoting Rúben Amorim (and I do not have his words as demagogy) when the journalist sais “City seemed to have a solution to everything”:
Rúben Amorim- ” It's not only about the players, but the Coach as well... I cannot follow his line of thoughts"..."If we close in the middle, they find a solution on the side. If we close on the side, they find something in the middle. It's a feeling of helplessness.”
It's not only about a linear cause-effect relation or foreseeing the game and having a detailed game plan. I believe that much of the content of this game and elimination (and I do not refer only to the game itself within the 4 lines but also to the statements of the coaches, and for those who want to go deepen on this topic, I leave below a few extracts) comes to highlight, on the one hand, the influence of the unpredictable "here and now” (in this City game) and, on the other, to ponder on the (sub)appreciation of the circumstantial and unpredictable side in today's football, as well as the importance of its development and encouragement.
I ask if the attention given to the plans for the game is the same as the one that the game has for us?
When I talk about spontaneity, I talk about it in a relation to Timing, in this case, a timing that overcomes the How (execution).
So the “how” often becomes highly VARIABLE and unpredictable since it depends on the timing, the circumstance, the needs of the “here and now”, an ever endless equation.
Notice for example the timing - only possible with a calm and loosen play – of City players, often waiting until the LAST moment to act, throwing the bait first, waiting or forcing the opponent to an error. And when the opponent "gives his back" – and thus advantage - they apply their aggressiveness, sometimes coming up with unexpected solutions.
I would say this is only possible with a flexible and open Idea but sometimes slower game, where a calm and loosen way of playing (see video) are conditions to best understand the game and Accelerate it at the right time. These two issues - Open idea and loosen way of playing -are in fact fully related.
A pattern, always different but also always redundant and recognized as a group.
A recognition, certainly experienced and embodied, supported by an IDEA with a Pattern - redundant side – but flexible, will lead to the creation of a constant evolving culture.
This development will always depend on the factor Time (I also suggest the reading of Rúben Amorim's statements on the matter, specially about the need for time, when analyzing the game of the first round and in particular the growth of “his” Sporting).
Statements by Rúben Amorim
The same pattern of problems and solutions today requires slower reasoning than the same pattern of problems and solutions provided tomorrow, when the progression of what was reasoning became intuitive. And when something is still reasoning for some and already intuitive for others, it becomes in fact difficult to follow, in this case with eleven brains (City players), who anticipate what will happen 4 to 5 events ahead of time. And this has a big contribution from the Game Culture experienced for years at M City.
However, regardless the level of this game process, I believe that spontaneity, even if it leads to (necessary) errors, is always more an ally than a problem in this Culture development, which always involves... the unpredictable.
If my observation considering the context of maximum pressure, where it is highly likely and tempting to want to control everything, seems to accept spontaneity as an ally to the evolution of the Idea and to deal with the unpredictability of the game, why are these matters of spontaneity, creativity, risk and the unpredictable so undervalued in today's football?
Note: for those interested in knowing more, I suggest reading a previous article I wrote about Guardiola's City and Conte's Inter, where I consider the process of creating the concept of an Evolving Culture and spontaneity, doing it also in the light of other creative processes: